The National Non-Communicable Disease Commission has reported seeing a positive change in the eating habits of students at two schools which are part of a project to promote healthy and nutritious foods in schools.
Project Manager with the Commission, Sheena Warner, said there had been a noticeable difference in what students at The Garrison Secondary School and Combermere School have been requesting since the canteen and authorised vendors at those institutions, started offering healthier alternatives.
She made the disclosure this week, at a workshop??entitled A Play in a Day at the Holy Innocents Primary School, Welchman Hall, St. Thomas, an initiative by the commission to encourage proper nutrition and physical activity in primary school children, through drama.
"They are serving healthier options and the children are asking for them. For example, they opt for bananas [instead of unhealthy snacks] and water instead of carbonated drinks. The canteen operators, as well as the vendors, are on board. If it is golden apple season, [the vendors] will sell golden apples; dunks season, dunks and so on with no salt," she explained, adding that it was a bit more of a challenge to deal with vendors selling outside of school premises.
She noted that the Ministry of Health had invited these vendors to workshops about the benefits of providing healthy, nutritious snacks to children. Although the response was positive, she said initially, some vendors were somewhat hesitant over the possibility of losing sales.
"What they have said, is that demand goes hand-in-hand with the items they sell. So, if they see a change in what the children are asking for, then they will make the changes because it is about profit for them,"?? Ms. Warner explained.
She said the Health Ministry would continue to work with The School Meals Department, vendors, schools and tertiary institutions, to ensure healthier options were offered to students from "ages four to 18".